Alpine Skiing 101
As we are creating a little theme by looking at the fastest events to look forward to at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics we are going to look at Alpine Skiing. With skiers reaching speeds over 100kmph the Alpine events are definitely up there as some of the fastest and when the skiers lose control or ‘catch an edge’ we get a feel of the speed they are going by how wildly they fly through the air bouncing off the slopes.
What is Alpine Skiing?
Apline Skiing is the group name for the fixed ski events, what this means is the skiers boots will be fully attached to the ski unlike in ski jumping or cross country where the heel can lift up. This means the skier can reach higher speeds and have more control on tight turns.
Alpine Skiing traditionally contains the Downhil, Super-G, Giant Slalom and Slalom. There is also a combined event and for the PyeongChang games we are going to see the Alpine Team event take place for the first time. So let’s break down each event.
Downhill – Reaching speeds of 140kmph going down slopes as steep as 15 degrees, this is easily the fastest event in Alpine skiing. Each athlete has to pass through gates as they go down the hill, only one run is allowed so skiers must make it count.
Super-G – This is a shortened name for Super Giant Slalom, similar to the Downhill event but contain long turns making it slower but with the same gradient makes it equally challenging. The gates for this event will be a minimum of 25m apart and again each athlete is allowed only one run.
Giant Slalom – Super-G’s little brother brings a new challenge for skiers, the course adds more gates than the Super-G meaning these athletes have to zigzag across the course. The gates for this event will be a minimum of 10m apart and but this time each athlete will get 2 runs.
Slalom – The shortest of the Alpine Ski events produces a completely new challenge to athletes, the course is much shorter and has 55-75 gates spread at distances between 75cm and 13m. The athletes are still judged my time and like the Giant Slalom will have 2 runs.
Alpine Combined – This event contains a Downhill race and a Slalom Race, unlike the regular Slalom race each skier will only have 1 run down the course and the two times are added together to give a total time.
Alpine Team – This event will follow the Giant Slalom rues but two teams will race against each other in a relay style elimination event until we reach final standings. Each team will have 2 men and 2 women who will take 1 run each.
What are the rules?
The rules for the Alpine events are fairly simple, to win you must be the fastest down the hill and you will have 1 or 2 runs to do so depending on your event. However athletes can be caught out if they miss a gate, if an athlete misses a gate or their skis and poles do not pass the gate on the correct side they can receive a time penalty, with only seconds splitting athletes any penalty can dramatically change the leader board.
Who to look out for
In Alpine Skiing we are loosing some huge names of the sport to retirement but this means we can be excited to see new talent come through and after Sochi 2014 Mikaela Shiffrin of the USA will be looking to take home another gold medal after becoming the youngest Olympic Alpine championed aged 18! Henrik Kirstoffersen from Norway will be looking to improve on his bronze in the Slalom after he became the youngest male medalist aged 19! On the other end of the scale veteran skier Lyndsey Vonn of the USA and the winner of 78 World Cup races (all-time women’s record) will be hoping to compete in PyeongChang after injuries kept her out of Sochi 2014.
Written by Imran Ali